Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Head, Heart, and Nous by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Entrance to the Monastery in Leilich, Serbia where
St Nikolai Velimirovich's relics are kept

Matushka Frederica makes some brilliant distinctions in this article. She masterfully explains some very subtle nuances in the understanding of the Fathers concerning the make up of man; head vs nous [also translated as intellect, mind (not to be confused with reason), that part of the soul which can have communion with God and can know God. Frederica makes a distinction between spiritual heart and feelings; between imagination and man's creative faculty.This is all very Patristic, and according to holy tradition and the scriptures.

M. Frederica writes;

"This concept of the nous, I would think would be important to Western Christians and to Evangelicals, because they do have this important role for God’s revelation, that there are things that we cannot learn by logic alone, there are things we can only learn because God reveals them. So therefore you need something more than a heart full of emotions and a head full of concepts. You need a receptive mind, a mind that can comprehend, and that would be the nous. It’s like a piece that is missing in our Western anthropology." Frederica Mathewes-Green

To read the article please go to Matushka Frederica's website

Posted with permission

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to See God - a Sermon by Fr Andrew S. Damick

Moses beholds the burning bush Source

"Fr. Andrew reflects on the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
and how it reveals how we can see God and sense His Presence."
from the Ancient Faith Radio website.

Please click here to listen to this wonderful sermon.

Posted with permission from Fr Andrew S. Damick

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On Forgiveness by Fr Alexis Trader

Icon of Christ's Trial inside the 
Church of 
Panagia Dexia in Thessaloniki, Grecce

Fr Alexis Trader, an Athonite Hieromonk, in the
Monastery of Karakallou, has been publishing a 
series of post on forgiveness in his blog,

The articles on forgiveness are very comprehensive in 
their scope and practical application. This is Patristic
teaching at its bests. It will surely help many. Please
do not deprive yourself of something wonderful and
start following this series on forgiveness. 
There are 21 posts following 
this one, so far. If you
go to the home page of the blog you will see the last
or more recent one. To start from the beginning,
please go 

Below is the beginning of the first post,

"A New Blog Series on Forgiveness: Some
Preliminary Definitions
June 10, 2014 By fatheralexis

In a fallen world, no one escapes the bumps and bruises associated with our interactions with others. Sometimes, the cuts and scrapes form gaping holes that may leave us offended and wounded, hurt by angry words, callous actions, or selfish disregard. While we can confidently affirm that conflict is an inevitable, if not unfortunate part of human life, the aftermath of such often comes down to a choice between resentment and forgiveness. This new blog series will focus attention on the latter.

Forgiveness, or the lack thereof in ourselves or in others, is a subject that affects each of us, undoubtedly on a daily basis. Its role is so significant that psychologists and healthcare professionals over the past thirty years have begun studying what people of faith have known about for millennia, namely that forgiveness plays a powerful, therapeutic role in better physical and mental well-being. Of course, Christianity uses another language—the language of the heart, the language of brotherhood, and the language of God Himself—to speak about forgiveness, whereas psychology uses the terminology of science. Is there a meeting place between our forgiving our brothers and sisters from our hearts their trespasses against us (Matthew 18:35) and what psychologists are exploring today? That will be one of the questions this series will attempt to answer.

A starting point for that question would be to look at some definitions that psychologists propose for forgiveness. As Blake Riek and Eric W. Mania have noted in their article “The Antecedents and Consequences of Interpersonal Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic Review,” there have been various opinions concerning an exact definition of the term. Yet, they do point out the definition put forth in 1997 by McCullough, Worthington, and Rachal: forgiveness is “a set of motivational changes whereby one becomes a) decreasingly motivated to retaliate against an offending relationship partner, b) decreasingly motivated to maintain estrangement from the offender, and c) increasingly motivated by conciliation and goodwill for the offender’” (pp. 321-22). In other words, forgiveness is about how we are moved with respect to someone else or a change in disposition in which the fight or flight impulse has weakened and an inclination towards meeting the person with kindness begins to grow stronger. There is a change in the will and a change in perspective that allows for a radically new and undeniably positive approach to someone else that is manifest in thoughts, emotions, and behavior. That this is something good, almost goes without saying."

Icon of St Innocent of Moscow (and of Alaska) Weeping Myrrh in Khabarovsk

I just read the following in Could this be
a warning, not only to Russia but also to the United States?

"Khabarovsk, August 22, 2014

On August 20, 2014, in the house church of the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary, the icon of this educational establishment’s patron-saint, Holy Hierarch Innocent of Moscow (Veniaminov; 1797-1879; a great missionary in Siberia and north America, later Metropolitan of Moscow) , began weeping myrrh, reports the Khabarovsk Diocese’s information department.

The unusual phenomenon was noticed by the seminary aspirants who came to take entrance examinations.

“The streaming myrrh was noticed by our seminary entrants who remained at the evening prayers. When we were informed about it, we saw drops on the eyes of the Holy Hierarch Innocent of Moscow and stains from them. This is an icon of our patron-saint so we performed a prayer service at once,” related the pro-rector of the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary Bishop Ephraim of Bikin. “When the icon was opened to make sure that it really was shedding myrrh, the church suddenly was filled with fragrant aroma. In order to document the fact that the icon started shedding myrrh, the seminary has drawn up a special record”.


The myrrh continued streaming on the following day as well. Big drops resembling tears were flowing down the saint’s image, accumulating at the bottom edge of the icon.

The complete article can be read here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Struggle for Virtue by Archbishop Averky

This book is available from Amazon

"Table of Contents
Introduction: The Essence and Meaning of Asceticism
1. Self-Asserting Pride and Christian Humility
2. The Importance of Spiritual Discernment
3. Gospel Love and Humanistic Altruism
4. Acquiring Gospel Love
5. Reawakening Our Conscience
6. The Christian Understanding of Freedom
7. Guarding the Heart Amidst the Distractions of Life
8. Resisting Evil
9. Waging Unseen Warfare
10. Christian Struggle
11. The Holy Fathers on Combating the Passions
12. Pastoral Asceticism
Subject Index
Scripture Index

Archbishop Averky is considered one of the great scholars of 20th-century Orthodoxy and this book brings to the English-speaking world his answer to the question “What is asceticism?” A bearer of the saving doctrine of the Patristic teaching, he steadfastly defended traditional Orthodoxy and passed on this teaching through his commentaries on Scripture and other works in the Russian language. In showing how evil is rooted out and virtue is implanted in the soul, Archbishop Averky counters the many false understandings that exist showing that the practice of authentic asceticism is integral to the spiritual life and the path to blessed communion with God." from the Amazon website

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Path of Entry to the Philokalia by Monk Maximos - available from Patristic Nectar Publications

To purchase this series please go to Patristic Nectar Publications

"The Path of Entry to the Philokalia: Selected Readings
as presented by Monk Maximos (Constas)

Many of you have expressed great interest in the Philokalia, but struggle with a method for entering and digesting these great texts.

As you know, the Philokalia is a collection of sacred Orthodox spiritual texts written between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries. The writers of these texts were concerned with inner asceticism, ceaseless prayer, and how one may attain a life of contemplative stillness and union with God. Although a treasure trove of patristic wisdom, the texts are not organized thematically in a manner that facilitates comprehension for the beginning reader.

To assist those interested in immersing themselves in the Philokalia, Patristic Nectar Publications has created an audio series of nine readings that constitute the traditional path of entry into these texts as presented by Monk Maximos (Constas). When the Philokalia is entered by listening to this selection in the order proposed, the listener is gradually and wisely initiated into the practices of inner attention, spiritual sobriety, and the Prayer of the Heart. Moreover, this selection amply demonstrates the Biblical and Patristic foundations of these practices, as well as their direct connection to the sacramental life of the Church. Because the mind must first be recalled from its many distractions, these works encourage the practitioner to use the breath as a way to lead the mind to the heart, and from there to invoke the name of Jesus Christ. Having understood the basic principles and practices presented in these works, one may afterwards move more freely throughout the other works in the Philokalia.

Each audio in this series may be purchased individually, or they may be purchased as a set. When purchased individually, the total cost is $60. Patristic Nectar is offering the set of all nine audios for $40 – a savings of 33%!

The set includes:

1. St. Nikephoros the Hesychast, On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart

2. Saints Kallistos and Ignatios, Directions to Hesychasts

3. St. Hesychios, On Watchfulness and Holiness

4. Evagrius, On Prayer

5. A Discourse on Abba Philemon

6. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Faith

7. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Three Methods of Prayer

8. St. Gregory Palamas, In Defense of Those who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness

9. St. Gregory of Sinai, On the Signs of Grace and Delusion

And also included as an added bonus: Free PDF entitled:

Prologue of the Philokalia (On Noetic Prayer) - A Primer of Mystical Theology by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

(Please note: Monk Maximos also recommends reading: St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, “Guarding the Mind and the Heart,” in id., A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel, trans. P. Chamberas (New York, 1989), 153-172. This selection is not included in this series or offered by Patristic Nectar Publications.)" from the Patristic Nectar Publications website

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coping with Stress a Cognitive Behavioral Approach

"Stress is ubiquitous and on the rise. How we learn to
manage it can have profound effects on our health and
well being. This series explains how our bodies
experience stress and demonstrates effective strategies
to help you thrive in a fast-paced world. On this edition,
Dr. Jason Satterfield, Director of Behavioral Medicine at
UCSF, explores adjustment to chronic medical and
stress-induced illnesses, HIV, and stress-management."
from YouTube

"ProfessorJason M. Satterfield is Professor of Clinical

Medicine, Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences,
and Director of Behavioral Medicine in the Division of
General Internal Medicine at the University of California,
San Francisco" from the Great Courses  website.

The science of cognitive behavioral therapy is very 
effective in removing and changing erroneous patterns
of thought that affect our mental and emotional 
well being. It also has significant similarities with the
Orthodox way of achieving spiritual wholeness, at the
most basic and initial steps.

The work that we Orthodox Christians must do within
our own hearts will have the most promising outcome
if we achieve mental and emotional wholeness before we 
engage in the deep spiritual work of renewing our hearts 
and our soul. We must order the house of our thoughts
before we pursue the deep things of God.

Fr Alexis Trader, a priest-monk in Mount Athos has
written a very interesting book on the relation between 
cognitive science and hesychasm. It is fascinating!

Available from Amazon

"Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy details a colorful journey deep into two seemingly disparate worlds united by a common insight into the way our thinking influences our emotions, behaviors, and ultimately our lives. In this innovative study about mental and spiritual health, readers are not only provided with a thorough introduction to the elegant theory and practical techniques of cognitive therapy, they are also initiated into the perennial teachings of ascetics and monks in the Greek-speaking East and Latin-speaking West whose powerful writings not only anticipated many contemporary findings, but also suggest unexplored pathways and breathtaking vistas for human growth and development. This groundbreaking interdisciplinary volume in the art of pastoral counseling, patristic studies, and the interface between psychology and theology will be a coveted addition to the working libraries of pastors and psychologists alike. In addition, it is ideal as a textbook for seminary classes in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling, as well as for graduate courses in psychology dealing with the relationship between psychological models and religious worldviews."
From the Amazon website
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